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A man who was locked up for 38 years for a murder in 1983 was released on Friday from a California prison after DNA evidence pointed to a different person. The Los Angeles County District Attorney announced the conviction of Maurice Hastings, 69, has been vacated during a court hearing on Oct. 20.

Hastings was released from his life sentence following the court hearing that was requested by prosecutors and Hastings’ lawyers from the Los Angeles Innocence Project. He has maintained his innocence since the time of his arrest. The case had Hastings facing charges of special-circumstance murder in the death of Roberta Wydermyer, who was sexually assaulted and killed by a gunshot to the head. The victim’s body was found in the trunk of her car in the LA suburb of Inglewood, CBS News reported.

At the time of his conviction, the district attorney’s office sought the death penalty but the jury had reached a deadlock. Hastings was convicted by a second jury and was sentenced in 1988 to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. A claim of innocence was submitted by Hastings last year to the DA’s Conviction Integrity Unit which allowed him to pursue DNA testing after the DA denied this request in 2000, In June, DNA test results showed that the semen found on the victim was not his.

Meanwhile, the DNA profile was put into the state database where a match was made with a person convicted of armed kidnapping of a female victim who was stuffed into a car truck as well as another case of forcing oral copulation on a woman. The identity of the matched profile was not released but records show the murder suspect was already serving time in prison for a separate case of kidnapping and rape. The convict died in 2020.

“What has happened to Mr. Hastings is a terrible injustice. The justice system is not perfect, and when we learn of new evidence which causes us to lose confidence in a conviction, it is our obligation to act swiftly,” district attorney, George Gascón, said in a statement,

Hastings, now a free man, spoke during a news conference saying he was not going to be a bitter man and would just want to enjoy his new lease on life. “I prayed for many years that this day would come,” he told reporters.

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